The Potential Relationship Between Human Activity and Climate Change The idea of global warming has been around for over one hundred years, but in recent decades climate change has become a serious threat to national security. To better understand, global warming is defined as the gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, generally recognized as the greenhouse effect, and is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants, also known as greenhouse gases.
Researchers have debated for years about the main causes of global warming. Although history can show that global warming is inevitable, the majority of evidence points to human industry and agriculture as a primary cause for this irrational change in the earth’s climate. Today, climate change has become a main concern universally and has quickly led to substantial changes in the world’s physical environment. Extreme weather events are becoming more common and countries all over the world are beginning to experience more and more unnatural disasters every day.
Every year that our climate changes and continues to get warmer, studies are beginning to present more evidence that there is a clear cause-and-effect relationship between human activity and climate change. The greenhouse effect was adopted by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Svante Arrhenius. Considering that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere and that this carbon dioxide is released by burning coal and fuel, Arrhenius “speculated that continued burning of coal and oil would increase concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, making the planet warmer” (“How We Know Human Activity Causes Global Warming” 2).
There are things that we humans do daily that may not seem harmful, but evidently these actions are leading factors in the cause of global warming. Automobiles, electricity, heat, and air-conditioning are some of the things people use every day that affect the environment. The rises in agriculture, deforestations, and factories have also had a tremendous role in the climate change.
The Committee on Ecological Impacts of Climate Change predicted in a report that “the record of climate-induced change over the last million years indicates that human-caused climate change, if not slowed significantly, will have a major landscape-transforming impact across most of North America and its coastal ocean in the next 100 years and beyond” (38). Ironically, although climate change has become a national issue and main concern for many people, these civilians are everyday contributing factors to this decrease in the safety of the environment.
Researchers have shown that if the climate continues to rise, an estimated twenty to thirty percent of species risk extinction in the next hundred years. The National Academies of Science came to the conclusion that “given that there are approximately 1. 7 million identified species on the globe; an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 species could be committed to extinction primarily due to human activities” (39). Evidently, we humans are slowly but surely ending our world as we know it.
During the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution was a time of mass production and brought about new inventions that would set the United States high on the list of technological advances. While this seemed like a time of success for Americans then, the long term effects of this new industrial world would follow for generations to come. The excess amount of fossil fuels burned in factories and the disposal of waste in landfills are two very strong examples of how industries continue to damage our environment.
Also, in order to build these factories mass deforestation takes place. This replaces the production of oxygen and clean air, with poisonous greenhouse gases. With all the toxic exposure of carbon dioxide polluting the air “multiple lines of scientific evidence show that Earth’s global average surface temperature has risen some 1. 3°F since 1850” (Ecological 4). Industries in the world today are well aware of the effect their production companies have on the environment, but as long as profit is involved, there is no stopping them.
Studies show that “if “business as usual” practices continue, climate change in coming decades will be exceptionally rapid, much more rapid on a sustained global basis than the transitions into and out of past ice ages” (Ecological 38). There have always been cases of extreme weather conditions, but in recent years, these weather conditions are becoming more and more common. It was believed for years that climate change had nothing to do with weather conditions.
Since then, because more people are paying attention to the issue of global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that “a changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events” (Field). Due to the rise in the Earth’s temperature over the past couple of years, the probability of severe heat waves and droughts has increased.
As a result of the increase in amount of heat waves, the percentage of evaporation increases, causing heavier downpours of rain, which evidently can lead to flooding. People may sometimes underestimate the impact of global warming. “It is reported that in the 24 years between 1979 and 2003 more people died in the United States of extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined” (Evans). Since 2000 there have been a whole series of extreme and severe weather conditions.
One was seen in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. “At least 1,836 people died in the actual hurricane and in the flood that followed after the levees failed. 80% of New Orleans was under water” (Evans). Just in the month of April alone, in 2011 almost one hundred different tornados hit the southern coast of the United States. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia were all hit by these tornados; “at least 310 people lost their lives and the storms caused billions of dollars in property damage” (Evans).
It seems like every year the climate changes, weather conditions continue to get worse. More uncommon weather conditions are starting to occur. “In July 2010 temperatures in Moscow reached 102°F for the first time in recorded history. For 35 days the temperature reached at least 86°F and more than 10,000 died in Moscow alone as a result of the sweltering conditions”(Evans). It was also reported that more than 26,000 new record temperature highs were set in 2012 alone in the United States.
Many believe that these extreme weather conditions are a direct result of the damage people have left on the environment in recent years, but on the contrary, paleontologists have been collecting climactic records dating back to prehistoric times. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum took place approximately 55 million years ago causing “rapid and large increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused an abrupt and sustained global warming of over 9°F, and also acidification of the world’s oceans— similar to what we currently face”.
(Ecological 37). Due to such substantial evidence, it seems as if global warming is inevitable. The only power we humans hold is to keep our economy and environment as clean as possible. Using less electricity and burning less fuel won’t save the world entirely, but it will buy us a little more time. Works Cited Ecological Impacts of Climate Change. Washington D. C. : National Academies, 2008. Web. 04 Mar. 2013 <http://site. ebrary. com. cwplib. proxy. liu. edu/lib/liu/docDetail. action? docID=10267565>. Evans, Michael.
“Extreme Weather. ” The Earth Times. The Earth Times, 11 May 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. Field, Chris. “Climate Change Is Real. ” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://www. cnn. com/2012/11/01/opinion/field-sandy-climate>. “How We Know Human Activity Is Causing Warming. ” Environmental Defense Fund. N. p. , n. d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. Repetto, Robert, and Robert Easton. “Climate Change and Damage from Extreme Weather Events. ” Environment 52. 2 (2010): 22-33. ProQuest. Author Resolver, Mar. -Apr. 2010. Web. 04 Mar. 2013